Career Development, the U.S. Job Search, and International Students: The “S Word” (Sponsorship)…and Keeping Students Motivated (Post 4)

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

The whole sponsorship process can seem overwhelming, confusing, and daunting. I’ve seen many a career adviser’s face go blank (with a slight hint of “YIKES!”) when asked about this process from an international student seeking work in the United States. Here is the good news: you don’t have to know everything! As a career adviser, you simply need to understand the sponsorship basics, connect the student to the correct resource/office, discuss strategies and resources for the career search, and provide hope (and not just the mushy “you can do it!” stuff…I mean concrete hope in the form of proof through past successes). Not too scary, right?

Step one. Find the visa services office at your institution. Check out their website, and find a contact you can use to connect with students, to answer occasional questions. Your institution’s visa services office will have information on a variety of issues, including optional practical training (OPT) and curricular practical training (CPT), along with other links, and instructions for various processes. If your institution (or company) does not have a specific office or website for this, Duke University’s website is very helpful. Every year or so, my office has our visa services contact visit during a staff meeting to review the sponsorship process and current trends or changes, and answer questions.

Step two. Find resources you can provide international students with to help them with the U.S. job/internship search. I mentioned a few books and other resources that are very helpful in my first post in this series. I have two additional online resources that I find super beneficial…and my students LOVE them too.

GoinGlobal—This is a paid service that some of you may not have (don’t worry, I have a free resource below that is also very helpful), that provides tons of great information including companies that have petitioned for H1-B’s in the past (clues to international student friendly companies); country guides with employment and internship job sites, cultural job search information, top companies, and industry and employment trends.

MyVisaJobs—This is a free resource with information on work authorization (e.g., H-1B and student visas); links to attorneys categorized by state; and databases for finding companies that have petitioned for H-1B’s each year—you can search by employer, city, state, industry, job title, or by if the petition was certified, withdrawn, or denied. Great stuff!

Now, to the third and final step. Provide hope to your student. The information students can garner from the above links gets them motivated, but connecting them to others that have found work in the United States successfully provides great hope. Not only does this type of connection/networking provide hope, but it also provides instruction, direction, and the potential for a wonderful mentorship opportunity. Creating a database of international alums working in the United States, will be highly beneficial to you as you’ll be able to connect these alums to current students and invite them to panels or other special events. These alums can also be a great resource to you, and entry into a stronger relationship with their employer. If you don’t have a spreadsheet or database, you can certainly use LinkedIn (I especially like the “Find Alumni” trick I wrote about in my second post under “Ideas and Resources”).

I hope my posts on assisting international students with the US job search have been helpful to you. I’d love to hear about other strategies and resources that have worked for you—if you have any, please share the love by leaving a comment!

Find Ross Wade’s other blogs on working with international students. Part 1, part 2, part 3. Get Quick Tips for Assisting International Students on NACEWeb.

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